The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 17, 2014

Beller: Not guilty of attempted murder, guilty of other offenses

By Greg Jordan
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— After deliberating for more than three hours Wednesday, a Mercer County jury found a Raleigh County resident who ran down a Tractor Supply employee in February 2013 not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty of malicious assault and other offenses.

Dustie Gene Beller, 33, of Arnett was arrested after a Feb. 8, 2013 incident at the Tractor Supply parking lot off Cumberland Road in Bluefield. The Jeep that Beller was driving ran over Mackenzie Ansley, 21, of Ballard.

The incident started when a male friend who was traveling with Beller went into the store and attempted to steal a chainsaw. Ansley and other store employees pursued him into the parking lot as he ran from the store. He threw the chainsaw into the Jeep and fled the parking lot on foot. Ansley was injured when Beller ran over her right leg, inflicting severe abrasions, sprained ankles, and other injuries. She later recovered, and is now working for another Tractor Supply location in Virginia.

During the trial Tuesday in Mercer County Circuit Court, Ansley said she joined her coworkers outside the store when the theft occurred, opened the door to Beller’s Jeep and told her not to move. Beller sped away, and her companion threw the chainsaw into the vehicle. Beller’s companion later pleaded guilty to petit larceny.

Beller testified Tuesday that Ansley stood in front of the Jeep. Ansley said during her testimony that she was turning away from the Jeep when Beller struck her and was not trying to make her stop.

The jury began its deliberations at approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday. Just before 1:30 p.m., the jurors announced that they had reached a verdict.

Beller was found not guilty of attempt to commit first-degree murder. The jury did find her guilty of misdemeanor charges including petit larceny, conspiracy, failure to stop and render assistance, and guilty on a felony count of malicious assault. Chief Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler said malicious assault carries a possible penalty of two to 10 years in prison. The remaining charges carried up to a year of imprisonment apiece.

Beller’s attorney, Anthony Salvatore, asked that his client remain free on a $50,000 surety bond. Sitler objected because Beller had just been convicted of “a brutal assault.” Judge William Sadler allowed Beller to remain free on bond.

A hearing for actions such as a motion for a new trial was scheduled for June 16. Sadler said the court would proceed with sentencing if the motions were denied.

“I feel very good. I’m very happy,” Ansley said after the verdict was read. “Four out of five is good enough for me.”

Ansley said that running over and seriously injuring a person should have consequences.

“I don’t feel sorry for her at all. She’s 33, and she knew what she was doing,” Ansley added.

Beller declined to comment as she left the courtroom.